SEO

SEO Health check - An SEO Copywriting Checklist for Startups

As a startup founder — you’re busy doing a million things at once, you don’t have time to scrawl through a thousand blogs and books about SEO. There aren’t enough hours in the day for that. So, let’s see what we can do to bring you right up to speed.

You’re here, because you want to know how to make SEO work harder for your startup business. Right?

And maybe because — as a startup founder — you’re busy doing a million things at once, you don’t have time to scrawl through a thousand blogs and books about SEO. There aren’t enough hours in the day for that.

So, let’s see what we can do to bring you right up to speed.

First things first…

What is SEO?

You may have heard the term bandied around. You may think it’s something you need to be doing — and you’d be right. You may, though, still not know how to define it.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the practice of bettering you website’s ranking in a search engine, like Google. Why do you want to do this? ‘Cause then you’re more likely to appear in front of your target audience; driving more traffic to your website, social media channel, or online store.

Without amplifying your SEO, you risk listing right at the bottom of search engine results. Bad listing position = very few customers finding you.

A good listing position is achieved via a growing variety of techniques. And what’s more, with the rate the Internet’s advancing right in front of our very eyes, the world of SEO moves quickly too. The techniques which were working well for you yesterday, may not perform optimally for you today.

We won’t pretend getting SEO right happens over night, and we — definitely! —  appreciate it’s difficult to implement an agile and successful SEO strategy when you’re a startup marketing team of one.

So, let’s cut to the point: what are the must-haves, and must-dos, for killer SEO copy?

Top-shelf copywriting: what you need to know

At its essence, the art of writing copy is all about persuading readers to act.

Maybe you want them to rethink a current behaviour, probably you want them to buy your product, definitely you want them to engage with your brand.

Whatever your end goal, here are some principles you should be aiming towards:

Keep it snappy

As a general rule, each paragraph of content should contain no more than 5 of 6 sentences. Or 200 words in total.

If you find yourself writing reams and reams of copy, overflowing into many sentences, perhaps it’s time to pause and simplify. Hack back those super lengthy paragraphs.

Why should you bother editing in such a way? Because long, laborious copy puts readers off. Short, snappy, easy to digest content is a much more effective way of connecting with your customers.

Remember where your audience will be when they read your content. Chances are, they’re reading on-the-go, via mobile devices; last year, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide came through mobile. And heavy, demanding copy and small, handheld devices do not make happy bedfellows.

If you want your readers to stay engaged: keep it simple. Plus, Google rewards shorter content when choosing which sites to promote.

Make lists

Bullet points will also become a fond friend; they are fantastic tools for breaking content down and highlighting the most pivotal points.

Let’s see why:

  • Bullet points disrupt the text visually; giving the reader a break from paragraph formatting
  • Separating out your points makes them land more meaningfully, especially if the content is of importance
  • They increase scan-ability, so your post is more user friendly.

Make it flow

Transition words — ‘because’, ‘most importantly’, ‘until now’ — are good to have in your tool box. Use them to guide your reader, and keep them engaged. Remember to write like a human. As voice search becomes more prevalent, this will only become more important.

Craft a strong headline

Did you know that a mammoth 80% of readers will never make it past your headline? Shocking, isn’t it? That can make a big, big difference when you’re just launching your business.

The secret to a compelling headline is encapsulating the reader benefit. Why should they bother reading your blog or article? What will they gain from spending time with you?

Crafting top quality headlines is a skill; it takes time to develop. Until you’ve got your confidence, why not use Co-Schedule’s headline analyser to see if your headlines are up to the task?

Why have we spent so long talking about writing techniques, you may ask. Isn’t this meant to be a post about nitty gritty search engine optimisation?

Well, it’s one thing having all the right tools and widgets in place to drive traffic to your site – which we’ll go on to talk about now. But if you’re not retaining your readers and converting them into a sale… your campaign will fail regardless.

SEO techniques: a checklist for success

Now, let’s focus on the simple SEO techniques which can add value to your startup’s content marketing plan.

  • Keywords: both long and short tail
  • Internal and external links
  • Site speed
  • And the final touches: categories, tagging, URLs and meta descriptions.


Keywords

If you’ve been doing your homework on SEO strategies, you’ll have heard of keywords and why they work. As a reminder: you should consider which keywords your users may search for, when looking for a product/service such as yours, and then include these in the content you go on to write.

A word of warning though: don’t prioritise keywords over the clarity, readability and flow of your wording. Customers are becoming increasingly savvy about digital marketing; they will know when you’re forcing keywords in, simply to bump your page up Google results.

Instead, always consider how you can seamlessly incorporate the right keywords into your posts. The more natural, the better.

It’s also important to think about how your potential buyers would search for you, then echo the same structure in your content.

For instance, if deep into a debate with a friend about Mount Everest’s height, would you type into a search engine: “metres Mount Everest”? Or would you type: “how tall is Mount Everest”? Probably the latter, as that’s how you’d speak. The most ideal SEO keywords that you should include then, would be “how tall is Mount Everest”.

(It’s 8,848m, in case you were wondering: thanks Google).

Keywords which are longer than 3 words are referred to as Long Tail, and they are increasingly being used by smaller businesses such as yours. More and more, established companies have the monopoly over popular Short Tail keywords such as “weight loss” or “budget airline”.

Choose your keywords wisely, for an underdog advantage.

Internal links

Building internal links — that is, navigating your readers to another blog or page within your own site — helps strengthen your SEO. And, of course, having external sites linking to your page will attract new audiences. However, did you know that linking from your page to another, external site can also help bring home the bacon?

How?

By providing further information, should the reader want it, on a certain element of your content, you’re increasing trust and validity in what you’ve written. And that’s what search engines are looking for when they select sites to promote: trust and value.

Optimise your site speed

Can you remember the last time you waited a minute for a website to load? No, us neither. And that’s because you wouldn’t. Anything more than a few seconds and — if you’re like us — you start looking elsewhere.

This is important to consider for your SEO for two reasons: it’s pointless driving traffic to a site that takes ages load, so you can’t overburden your content with data-heavy imagery.

Number folks, it’s your time to shine again…

The industry reckons if your site loads in:

  • 5 seconds it is faster than 25% of the web
  • 9 seconds it is faster than 50% of the web
  • 7 seconds it is faster than 75% of the web
  • 8 seconds it is faster than 94% of the web

All in all, if your website loads in 1.5–2 seconds, you can rest assured.

If not, take a moment to assess the length of your content, the size of your images and the need for any data-draining animations or videos you’ve currently got published.

The final touches

Right before you hit ‘post’, there are a few last minute checks you can perform to add a sprinkle of SEO magic.

Remember to choose an appropriate category and tag for your content, as this will help search engines understand your website structure.

Ensure the URL of your post is SEO friendly. For instance, …./seo-checklist-for-startups will do much more for you versus what’s sometimes randomly generated.

And last, but not least, take time to edit your meta description. That is, the little blurb that appears underneath your web link on a search engine page; the one that helps readers to better understand what they can expect if they click through.

We recommend you download the free SEO Yoast plugin, which allows you to really ‘Edit Snippet’ (aka meta description). If you don’t tailor your meta description, then Google (or any other search engine) will simply extract some arbitrary text from your content, and more likely than not, it won’t be the most compelling message.

So that’s it, your SEO health check

Hopefully this article has helped debunk some of the SEO terminology and techniques which can be threatening when you first enter the scene.

Nobody said it would be easy; by nailing your SEO can truly deliver business results for your startup.

Feeling the pressure of doing it all on your own? No worries, send us an email and we’ll do all that we can to help you out.

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